Wolves are being linked with a swoop for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips – which could involve a swap deal with Helder Costa.
The 23-year-old holding player is in high demand as Leeds have promised him a new contract with interest from newly promoted Aston Villa, who are reportedly poised to make a £14m bid for him, along with interest from Southampton and Norwich.
Leeds want as much as £20m for a player who has made 141 appearances for his only and hometown club since making his debut against Wolves on April 6, 2015 in a 4-3 defeat for the Elland Road club at Molineux.
Football Insider website – which was the first to break the story of Leeds’ interest in Costa last week – claims a ‘Wolves source’ has indicated the club’s keenness to add Phillips to their Premier League squad.
A swap deal could be on the cards because Leeds want 25-year-old Costa, who is out of favour at Molineux, and Leeds do not want to pay a transfer fee for the Portugal international.
The future of Phillips, who is under contract for another two years, is the subject of some scrutiny after Leeds failed to win promotion to the Premier League. They were beaten by Derby in the semi-finals after finishing third.
Phillips would certainly fit the sort of profile Wolves are looking to recruit. They want to add young and hungry players, although given the level of interest in Phillips, he is not a player who is under the radar.
He is also English, which has been a rarity under head coach Nuno Espirito Santo. John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett are the only prominent senior English signings Nuno has made since coming to the club just over two years ago.
Wolves have one eye on the long term and will need to replace Joao Moutinho at some point. The brilliant Portugal international will turn 33 less than a month into the new season.
The Villa offer for Phillips is reportedly set to be lodged in the next few weeks, but it remains to be seen if Leeds will budge on their valuation. Leeds are set to offer Phillips an improved contract when he returns from holiday.
Wolves’ small squad means they don’t have an abundance of options in central midfield. Nation League winners Moutinho and Ruben Neves are joined by Leander Dendoncker to form the regular central midfield trio preferred by Nuno, while Morgan Gibbs-White and Romain Saiss provide the back-up.
Former Leeds and England right back Danny Mills believes Phillips should stay put, at least for another season.
“It will be a huge boost to Kalvin Phillips the club want to keep him and give him a new deal,” Mills told Football Insider.
“He will be thinking, ‘great, the club I love want me’ and, believe me, that really does matter. Players want what they are worth, and also want to play week in, week out. If you are a young player and getting good advice from your agent, the aim should be to get as much money as you can from the club you are at and to play every week.
“Phillips might not be a regular starter at a Premier League club, so he could stay at Leeds for another season, improve his game under Marcelo Bielsa and then treble his wages by moving to the Premier League in a year’s time when he is in a better position to play every week.”